Monday, May 3, 2010
His and Hers!
I swore I was done acquiring bikes, but when these two Raleigh Superbes popped up on Craigslist -- both for a price you'd expect to pay for one -- I decided to give them a good home.
That's not entirely true. My first thought was to flip them. They were under-priced and I thought with a little cleaning, I could sell them for twice what I paid. Well, they weren't home five minutes before that plan fizzled. They were simply too clean, too intact, too lovely to sell.
If I'm reading the hubs correctly, they're from 1971. Otherwise, there are very few clues to indicate these bikes are nearly 40 years old. They have their fork lock keys. They are without rust or dents (except a garage ding in the male bike's fender). They have the original Dunlop tires. They shift and brake perfectly. They have identical Scwhinn bells on the handlebars and matching, pristine Sacramento registration stickers from 1974.
One small mystery (paging Dr Aaron) lies with the Schwinn seats on each of them. They're identical and of very high quality, so it's not as if they lost their Brooks saddles over time or use. These appear to be the saddles they've had since the 1970s. Did Superbes sometimes come with Schwinn saddles in the U.S. market?
For me, most of the fun of collecting anything -- casino chips, old pipes, pens -- comes from understanding that the objects you acquire have a story behind them. Someone saved her money to buy her husband that briar pipe. Or someone handled that chip from the Sahara while listening to Louis Prima in the Casbah Lounge. With bikes, there are so many possible stories that it's usually impossible to guess. Was it a graduation gift that never made the trip to college? Or was it trusted, reliable transportation for a generation of trips to school, work and piano lessons?
The great thing about his-and-hers vintage bikes is you already know one key part of the story. The bikes were bought at the same time from the same bike shop. They were registered together and the same person applied the stickers. They belonged to a couple -- perhaps newlyweds or older folks who planned to put them on the back of the Winnebago. But they almost certainly represented someone's hopes of happy times and rides together with a loved one.
Now, they belong to Jan and me. And we're going to have happy times and rides together.